Listen Up Philip is the best new movie this writer has seen this year––a vicious, funny comic tragedy about a self-centered novelist, his smug mentor, and the women they alienate and screw over in pursuit of literary success.
Not that you’ll get much of a sense of that in this light, jazzy trailer. (Full disclosure: I’m quoted.) Understandably, it plays up the movie’s cast––which includes Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter, and Jonathan Pryce, the latter giving his finest performance in decades––and comic potential, just barely hinting at the drama that gives the movie its heft. The papery, book-y design of the titles (Philip Roth fans will recognize the font from early editions of Portnoy’s Complaint) makes for a neat nod to the movie’s deliberately novelistic structure––a risky gambit that involves third-person narration (read by Eric Bogosian) and a complex series of point-of-view shifts that effectively cuts the title character out of a sizeable chunk of the movie’s middle portion.
The film, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, opens in limited release on October 17, and will be available on iTunes starting October 21. See it, however you can.